Articles

Hope in Regret

According to his mother, ML was a wonderful son who, at 14, turned to alcohol and drugs. In the years that followed, he made a series of troubled choices. Caught in a downward spiral, he eventually was arrested and convicted of armed robbery. To his parents’ relief, he got a suspended sentence and seemed to […]

The King of Hearts

According to an online news source, a couple of regular customers of a Loveland, Colorado, fast-food restaurant, ages 52 and 85, ended up in court after disagreeing over a parking space. Assault charges were filed after the younger man swung open the door of his vehicle knocking the older to the ground. As in all […]

Jacob’s Legacy

In All’s Well That Ends Well, William Shakespeare gives us the thought that “No legacy is so rich as honesty.” Two centuries later, a French author by the name of Victor Hugo showed his readers that a legacy of honesty—without grace—can turn us into devils. In his 19th-century novel Les Misérables (i.e., The Miserable), Hugo […]

Jacob’s Sleepless Night

When a loving father lets his little boy tackle him to the ground or match muscles in arm wrestling, we don’t expect to see dad suddenly subject his young son to a painful arm twist or body slam. So why then do so many of us feel roughed up, abandoned, and even left for dead […]

Jacob’s Ladder

In 19th-century America, a generation of oppressed slaves sang a spiritual about “Jacob’s Ladder.” The repetitive, rhythmic lyrics about climbing higher and higher helped them envision themselves on a hard journey to a better place. The original story is about a great ladder reaching up to heaven, and it’s as down-to-earth as the man who […]

The Heel Snatcher

In Greek mythology, Achilles is a great warrior who dies from a poisonous arrow that lodges in his heel. Prior to his birth, a prophecy had foreseen his untimely and early death. So when he was born, his mother dipped him in the River Styx that was thought to give magical protection. Holding him by […]

Adam and Jesus

In the era of the Great Depression, the dust bowl, and breadlines, it might seem fitting that the 1930s also produced a dark comedy cartoon that came to be known as The Addams Family. Created by illustrator Charles Addams for The New Yorker magazine, the single-frame comic gags took a satirical look at a ghoulishly […]

The Wonder of a Tree

Discover Magazine published an article called “The Life, Death, and Life of a Tree.” It’s the wonderful story of a majestic redwood tree affectionately named Luna II. According to writer Jack McClintock, Luna II is a coast redwood whose scientific name, Sequoia sempervirens, literally means “ever-living.” He quotes the forest manager of Luna II who […]

A Better Righteousness

On a California beach, young surfers use the word righteous to describe a big wave, a drug-induced high, or a sexual adventure. In a nearby church, members of a prayer circle use the same word to talk about behavior that complies with the moral laws of the Bible. I’m guessing the beach crowd knows they […]

A Realistic View of the Bible

The Bible pays a price for being one of the most quoted and talked about books in the world. Even those who haven’t read it for themselves often assume they’ve heard enough to know what it’s about. But there’s more to this Book of books than its reputation may suggest. Being anything but predictable, first […]

Grounds for Mercy

A French news report told the story of a young field dog that jumped on its deer-hunting master in a playful show of affection. When the pup’s paw caught the trigger of the hunter’s firearm, the gun accidentally discharged, resulting in the loss of the owner’s hand. The victim later blamed himself for not having […]

Solomon and Jesus

Long ago, a young king of Israel wrote, “Blessed are those who find wisdom, . . . she is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her” (Proverbs 3:13-15 NIV). The Wisdom of Solomon: To this day, we still tell the story of how God appeared to him in a dream and […]

Samson’s Eyes

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH • Time: 1070 BC • Place: Land of Israel • Spirit of the Age: In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. —Judges 21:25 NKJV • Growing Crisis: A group of people known as the Philistines have brought their foreign gods and influence […]

Samson and Jesus

Samson is one of the most interesting people of the Bible. Like the Philistine Goliath, he’s remembered for his legendary physical strength. After killing a lion with his bare hands, he took on a whole army with the jawbone of a donkey and, in his last act, pushed down the pillars of a huge temple […]

Bully

When my wife and I walked into the small, darkened auditorium, we saw something that has been almost as unforgettable as the documentary we had come to see. Scattered and spread out among the many empty seats, a few parents sat with children in a manner that, as I recall, looked more like a visit […]

The Mystery of the Greenland Shark

How does the slowest shark in the world catch its food? Living in frigid, near-freezing waters, the Greenland shark swims at less than 1 mile an hour. It takes seven seconds for one full sweep of its tail to propel it forward. Researchers, however, have found remains of seals in the sharks’ stomachs. Those findings […]

A Misunderstood Warning

Joe and Marissa have never met. But they have a lot in common. Both found that spending 4 years in a state university was hard on their faith. Marissa became a follower of Jesus at a spiritual retreat during her last year in high school. Joe made his decision of faith at the age of […]

Norway’s Trial of the Century

In July of 2011, a 33-year-old Norwegian bombed an Oslo government building and then gunned down scores of guests at a Labor Party youth camp. Seventy-seven people died, and many more were injured. Prior to the attacks, the young gunman wrote a lengthy manifesto titled 2083: A European Declaration of Independence. In chilling detail, he […]

Abandonment

In a biography of Apple founder Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson explores the question of whether the corporate genius ever got over the fact that he was given up at birth by his biological parents. Isaacson quotes co-workers and friends who believe Steve Jobs struggled with a lifelong fear of abandonment. They recall not only his […]

The Bible and Cut Flowers

The words of the Bible can be like cut flowers. The words of Jesus, like the laws of Moses, can be selectively chosen and arranged for anyone’s temporary purposes and enjoyment. But once the words are sheared from the stem and root of the story they are telling, they begin to fade in significance like […]

Giving Facts a Chance

In the early 1950s, a small Chicago-based religious sect predicted that the world was going to end on December 21, 1954. Their leader claimed to have received this information from an alien reincarnation of Jesus who went by the name of Sananda. Their prophecy caught the attention of researchers from Stanford University, who decided to […]

Load Tests

While meeting with a group of co-workers in Singapore, I looked out a seventh-story window and noticed a pile of huge, concrete blocks. When I asked about it, a colleague gave me some background. He said that since Singapore is a city-state built on an island, it is a common practice to test the stability […]

Our Fathers

On StoryCorps, a project of National Public Radio, I heard 73-year-old Walter Dean Myers tell a story that he says has forever changed the way he remembers his father. Myers, an author with almost 100 books to his name, recalls that at 14 he already had a love for writing. Since his parents didn’t have […]

The Roar of Deception

In October 2011, 56 wild animals terrorized the town of Zanesville, Ohio. The owner of an exotic animal park, troubled by legal challenges and neighbor complaints, had lashed out against the community by deliberately opening his cages just before dark. Local authorities responded by warning neighbors, barricading roads, and closing schools. After a couple of […]

The Tree of Life

A recent motion picture begins with powerful images from the Hubble telescope and the whispered question, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? . . . When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4,7). As a film, The Tree of Life (written […]

Who or What Has Changed?

Malachi, the last prophet of the Hebrew Scriptures, quoted God as saying, “I am the LORD, I do not change” (3:6 NKJV). Down through the centuries, however, many have noticed that, somewhere between the Old and New Testaments, the God of the Bible does seem to change. Instead of sending down war, floods, fire, and […]

Famous Pairs

Famous pairs usually have something in common. They are the right combination of two people who help one another do together what they could not have done on their own. A short list might include: Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Abbott and Costello Car Talk’s Tom and Ray Sherlock Holmes […]

Why Sharing Our Faith Can Be Difficult

Some followers of Christ seem to find it natural to talk to others about their faith. Normal conversations, even with strangers, turn into spiritual encounters. They anticipate obstacles along the way, graciously answer objections, and often end up with a story of another changed heart. From the sidelines, many of us envy such persons. We […]

A Faith That Works

Can faith and works exist apart from one another? The authors of the New Testament seem to be so concerned about answering this question that they sometimes sound as if they are contradicting themselves. In some texts, for instance, the apostle Paul takes pains to emphasize that salvation is by faith alone without any hint […]

The Bible and Truth

In all of our lives there are defining moments that come with the realization that our world will never be the same again. Some of these events changed the course of history. We may have been around long enough to remember where we were when we heard that John F. Kennedy had been shot. Others […]

What Is Biblical?

What makes something biblical? The easiest answer may be that, “If something is found in the Bible, it’s biblical.” But that means polygamy, slavery, and genocide all qualify. Another approach is to say that an idea or practice is biblical if it is consistent with the values and nature of the Bible. That’s probably a […]

Being a Man

Some of King David’s last words were a challenge to his son. To Solomon, who would inherit the throne, he said, “Take courage and be a man” (1 Kings 2:2 nlt). What was this father saying? What did his son hear? Just as importantly, what do we hear in those words? Thousands of years later, […]

Endless Knowledge

Never before have so many people had access to so much information. With human knowledge doubling every few years and search engines like Google and Yahoo! at our fingertips, the potential for learning seems endless. The horizons of knowledge—According to Reuters News Service, the Hubble Space Telescope has found 10,000 galaxies in a window of […]

God on Trial

After surviving the horrors of Nazi concentration camps, Elie Wiesel wrote a novel titled The Trial of God. Reflecting Wiesel’s own crisis of faith, he created a character who accuses God of “hostility, cruelty, and indifference” for silently turning His back on His people in their time of need. In this plot, the only one […]

Authority Issues

In the 1960s, a generation of young people grew up with the slogan “Think for Yourself. Question Authority.” Earlier, the noted physicist Albert Einstein had observed “Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.” No one, however, gave us more reason to think twice about authority than Jesus. On the night before His […]

The Day God Died

On April 8, 1966, the cover of Time magazine asked in bold black letters, “Is God Dead?” The lead story described the work of several theologians who no longer held to traditional concepts of God. They were alike in concluding that the God of our fathers had not survived the dawn of evolution and birth […]

Beating Ourselves Up

Why do we punish ourselves for old regrets long after we believe God has forgiven us? The question stuck in my mind after a conversation with someone I’ll call TC. TC described himself as being in recovery for multiple addictions. A couple of times he said, “My problem was forgiving myself. I found it a […]

Slippery Slopes

Many of us know what it’s like to find ourselves on a steep roof or on some other slick incline of mud, ice, or loose gravel. So when someone uses the argument of “the slippery slope” to caution against taking even a small misstep in a dangerous direction, we do more than understand the warning. […]

One for All

In November of 1947, Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States, lobbied for a United Nations resolution that would divide Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. Truman later expressed his faith in the reborn state of Israel saying, “I believe it has a glorious future before it—not just [as] another sovereign nation, […]

The Wisdom of the Dog Whisperer

Millions of television viewers around the world have watched a dog trainer by the name of Cesar Millan. Also known as the “dog whisperer,” Millan has the ability not only to rehabilitate troubled dogs, but to do so with a calmness that often amazes the animal’s owner. Whether a dog is overly aggressive, excitable, or […]

Fool’s Gold

The California Gold Rush of 1848 created its share of prospectors who thought they had struck it rich—until learning about a glittering rock that came to be known as fool’s gold. More than a few saw their dreams fade in the metallic luster and brass-yellow hue of a relatively worthless mineral called iron pyrite. Such […]

Quoting God

In some circles, those who believe they have heard God speak to them are thought to be unstable. Other groups honor members who routinely quote what God has said to their hearts. Since so many of us think the practice has implications for either our sanity or spirituality, it might be worth thinking together about […]

Praying in the Name of Jesus

Just hours before Jesus’ death, He promised His disciples, “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:14 NKJV). Two thousand years later, those words continue to echo around the world. Millions of us will end our prayers today “in Jesus’ name.” But what about the promise? If we consider ourselves […]

Responding to Insult

By Internet or television, much of the world saw an Iraqi journalist throw both of his shoes at an American President. The shoe incident, however, was a minor embarrassment compared to a public display of contempt described in the Bible. The insult happened on a day that was already one of the lowest moments in […]

Sovereignty and Free Will

Would God hold us accountable for something He had not given us the ability to do? The people of Israel might have wondered as much when they heard Moses say, in his farewell address, “The Lord has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear” (Deuteronomy 29:4 NKJV). […]

Laws of the Harvest

I have a friend who uses a simple word picture to tell the story of his marriage. Having lost the trust and affection of his wife, he says he began to show small acts of kindness as if he were planting seeds into barren ground.  Even though there are no formulas for assuring outcomes in […]

Studies in Contrast

How seriously do we need to take the claims that the Bible is full of contradictions? More than a few have written books or hosted Web sites to say that they lost their faith after finding glaring inconsistencies in the Bible. Some have spent a lot of time compiling lists of apparent discrepancies in both […]

Relatives and Absolutes

In matters of truth and morality, some of us tend to think in black and white. Others see in shades of gray. The first group is more inclined to use words like always or never. The second is inclined to say, “But sometimes. . . .” The difference can easily affect the way we see […]

Bragging Rights for Losers

The reality television series known as “The Biggest Loser” is in its eighth season. Once again contestants are competing for a cash prize and bragging rights for losing the most weight. Much of the program’s appeal lies in the personal hopes and struggles of contestants that viewers can identify with. Making winners out of losers […]

Man’s Best Friend

Surveys show that 43 million US households own a dog. Some are service dogs and provide assistance to those with special needs. Others are used for security or hunting. But most are kept for companionship. Why do we love our dogs?  Is it because we don’t take time to think about the holes they’ve dug […]

The Influence of Intercession

Every once in a while I find myself with thoughts that cause me to wonder if someone has been praying for me. Sometimes it’s waking up with a song that seems to have come out of nowhere. On other occasions, I find myself with an awareness of God’s goodness or presence that seems to have […]

What Trust Looks Like

What does trust look like when we can’t explain our trouble, or see beyond it? Listening to others as they try to show faith in crisis can be confusing. Some say they are “believing God” for a job, restored health, a reconciled marriage, or the return of a prodigal. Others say reliance on Him means […]

Why Didn’t Paul Quote Jesus?

Critics of the church raise an interesting question about the credibility of the apostle Paul. The query sounds something like this: If Paul represented Jesus as he claimed, why did he rarely quote Christ in his letters? If we haven’t heard anyone raise this challenge before, it might surprise us to know that Paul was […]

Marital Submission and Sacrifice

Lately, I’ve asked a few husbands I know whether they make a practice of telling their wives what to do. The question usually gets a smile that acknowledges something I suspect. Most of us know that the apostle Paul calls a husband the head of his wife and urges wives to submit to their husbands. […]

False Intimacy

Over the past year, we have been working with some courageous men who have been willing to talk about their escape from pornography. In a compelling video presentation of broken and restored lives, several men told their stories in an empty warehouse that provides a visual backdrop for the lonely, secret obsession that had been […]

Feeling Down

What can we do when we’re out of sorts, not ourselves, and lost in emotions of inexpressible heaviness? What if, on top of it all, we’re feeling guilty for not being able to think or pray ourselves out of whatever is consuming our focus and energy? Spiritual talk that is supposed to help leaves us cold. Imagine meeting […]

The Trouble with Grace

Is grace the fast food of a spiritual diet? Could undeserved kindness be the junk food of slackers? By definition, grace is “the unmerited favor” by which God shows us the kindness we don’t deserve. It is closely related to His mercy by which He withholds the punishment we have earned. The trouble with grace […]

Business and Ministry

Is it possible to do ministry in a businesslike way . . . and to see business as a ministry? The question seems important because, even though nonprofit and profit-making efforts are different, both have a lot in common. To survive, both need a clear mission. Both need to know their public, adapt to change, […]

Emerging Churches

Over the past decade, there has been growing controversy about “a new way of doing church.” Many of our sons and daughters are forming or joining congregations that don’t look or sound like our kind of church. Yet, they are likely to tell us they are just trying to be authentic followers of Jesus, and […]

Coneys

In times of financial, social, or medical uncertainty, the coney might seem like an unlikely example of wisdom. But this little rodentlike critter, so common in certain regions of Africa and the Middle East, is worth getting to know.  The coney is interesting for a number of reasons. Based on DNA similarities, some biologists have […]

Jesus and Tolerance

Someone has said, “Wise are those who look at others with the same generosity they offer themselves, and at themselves with the same critical eye they have for others.” Such advice is difficult to disagree with because it amounts to treating others the way we’d want to be treated. The “golden rule” is hard to […]

The Limitations of Formulas

If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that followers of Christ have about as many unexpected health, work, and family problems as everyone else. Even though the Bible is full of wisdom that promotes spiritual, emotional, and physical health, it does not give us formulas for making life predictable. One of my younger brothers […]

Children and Disciples

Like clockwork, each new generation rides a pendulum of reaction to “the sins of the fathers.” As grateful as we may be for the good we have inherited, we are apt to “overcorrect” what we see as the failures of our parents. Seems to me that this is happening in the way an emerging generation […]

Jerusalem, Sodom, and Jesus

Why did God judge Sodom and Gomorrah? Most of us could answer the question. We’ve heard about the same-sex culture and out-of-control sexual aggression that Sodom and Gomorrah are known for (Genesis 19:1-10). But is there a story about the twin cities that we might have missed? Let’s take a closer look. Sodom and Gomorrah […]

Underdogs

One of the timeless appeals of the Bible is that it is good news for underdogs. What could be more inspiring than true stories about Davids in a world of Goliaths? That’s not ignoring the fact that the same book can also bring us to the end of ourselves. Some chapters sound like bad news […]

The Story and Struggle of Marriage

In first-century Greek, Roman, and Jewish society, a man was the master of his house. Wives lived under the rule of their husbands and were expected to submit to them. So when the apostle Paul, in his New Testament letters, encouraged wives to submit to their husbands, those words would not have been unusual. Today […]

The Spin Zone

The FOX News Network has made a name for itself by promising to present the news “fair and balanced.” Its anchors say, “We report. You decide.” Bill O’Reilly opens his hour-long program with, “You’re in the no spin zone.” He closes with a bit of a smile and twinkle in his eye, saying, “Remember, the […]

Listening

“Houston, we’ve had a problem.” Two days into the Apollo 13 moon landing mission, and almost 200,000 miles from earth, a spacecraft oxygen tank exploded. Cabin air, water, and power supply were suddenly in danger. Mission Control had to overcome enormous challenges to get the crew home. Since that crisis in space, the expression “Houston, […]

Solomon’s Messed-Up Life

From a distance, it would be easy to idealize Solomon. The Bible tells us about his wealth and accomplishments. His national building projects are a tribute to his vision. His collections of proverbs and reflections on the meaning of life show his lifelong pursuit of knowledge. On closer look, though, we see that Solomon had […]

The Wisdom of Agur

It’s painful to be misquoted. I remember how I felt when someone used the Internet to accuse me of saying that Matthew was wrong in applying Hosea 11:1 to Jesus (Matthew 2:15). I had not said Matthew was wrong, but wrote an article to show that Jesus gives fullness of meaning to events and principles […]

A Survey

A 2006 Baylor Religion Survey found that Americans have very different opinions about whether God is inclined to be angry. According to the Baylor study: ? 23 percent believe in a God of goodwill who   shows up in our lives and is not inclined to   be angry. ? 31.4 percent believe in an […]

The Wisdom of Motives

Is it right to consider not only whether a law was broken, but why? I’ve been wondering about this after reading how a German court handled the ticketing of a motorist caught speeding by a traffic control camera. When the court learned why the driver had broken the speed limit, charges were waived. Instead, officials […]

Wise Counsel

Long ago, Solomon wrote, “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14). Could this ancient proverb offer insight not only for hurting people but also for the family members and pastors who are called upon to help them? Overwhelming problems So many of us […]

Father Issues

Some of us have a hard time relating to God the Father. We sing to the Son, pray to the Son, and ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” But when Jesus talks about His Father, He touches issues that may be affecting us more than we realize. Maybe our problem is that His Father doesn’t […]

Enlightenment

What does it take to be wise? In a television commercial for online yellow pages, actor David Carradine plays a guru to a young seeker. When the student asks, “How do I find enlightenment?” the master says, “Yellowbook.com . . . Everyone is searching for something . . . . After all, it is a […]

A Shuffled Deck

Life is like a game of cards. We have to work with what we’re dealt. But what happens if we make up the rules as we go along? What if we assume that there is no real order or purpose to the shuffled deck of circumstance? Questions like these were raised in 1990, when American […]

The Urge to Jump

In April 2006, a man attempted to jump from the top of the Empire State Building. At the last minute, security guards physically restrained him and New York City police charged him with first-degree reckless endangerment. A judge later dismissed the charges, noting that the man had taken steps to ensure the safety of others. […]

Marital Abuse

Do we have a high enough view of marriage to respond adequately to marital abuse? Before answering, let’s consider one woman who represents many. To personalize her, let’s imagine her as our daughter or friend. She doesn’t know where to turn and blames herself for ending up in a bad marriage. We know she isn’t […]

The Big Fish Story of Yom Kippur

On Yom Kippur, the most solemn day of the Jewish calendar, a big fish story is read in synagogues. As worshipers fast, confess their sins, and reflect on the words of Moses and Isaiah, they listen once again to the account of a catch and release that is so amazing no one would believe it […]

The Love of God

I looked in the mirror and wondered if I was staring at one of heaven’s spoiled brats. After consuming more than my share of mercies, I could see in my eyes a sadness that reflected not what God had given, but what He had withheld. Questions formed emotional distance between me and the Father I […]

Wounded Soldiers

A veteran of the Iraq war recalls patrolling a street in Mosul on an ordinary Saturday morning when a grenade, tossed from a rooftop, exploded under his Humvee. He says he remembers lying on his stomach in the street unable to move his arms or legs. Blinded by the smoke, his ears were ringing as […]

Missing Prophecies

Is it possible that followers of Christ have overstated the case for fulfilled prophecy? Like many others, I grew up hearing that one of the strongest reasons for believing in Jesus is that He fulfilled hundreds of predictions in the Jewish Scriptures. Years later I found myself wondering where most of those prophecies were. More […]

Personal Bible Reading

How important is personal Bible reading? The question has been eating away at me for a number of reasons. Most people didn’t own Bibles until recently. For most of church history, followers of Christ relied on the public reading and teaching of Scripture. Personal copies of the Bible didn’t become common until well after the […]

Aesop

Until recently, I thought of Aesop as an ancient Dr. Seuss. Then I started reading his fables. What surprised me is that his stories about talking animals, birds, and insects aren’t just for children. As an adult, I found that many of Aesop’s fables parallel or at least reinforce moral insights of the Bible. Aesop’s […]

The Road to Realism

Someone has noticed that, “Optimists think the glass is half full. Pessimists think it’s half empty. Realists know that if they stay around long enough they’re going to have to wash the glass.” In art, realists paint life with blemishes, wrinkles, and scars. Idealists paint a subject as they imagine it could or should be. […]

Higher Ground

Do any of us think we are on the wrong side of a disagreement? Isn’t it ironic that, in times of conflict, we all think we have right on our side? It doesn’t matter if the disagreement is marital, political, or international. Together with our allies, we all are convinced that our side holds the […]

Heaven

I’m looking forward to long walks with good friends, shared meals without rushing, and endless laughter at no one’s expense. I’m anticipating meaningful work with plenty of time for reading, photography, fishing, and community service. For occasional entertainment I haven’t written off stadiums and ballparks. If my hunch is right, competition between friends will be […]

Mental Health

Soon after our marriage, my wife and I were faced with the needs of a family member whose inner world was deeply troubled. Sometimes this loved one heard voices no one else could hear. Sometimes there were fears that the government was spying on her through her television set. Sometimes she accused us of trying […]

Hell

I wish I didn’t have to believe in hell. While seeing the need for eternal justice, the thought of cruel and unusual punishment that lasts forever sounds morally wrong to me. Yet, the Bible describes God as a great King who creates a lake of everlasting fire for rebels who want no part of His […]

Words To Remember

A few years ago, I began collecting memorable thoughts and quotes. My regret is that I didn’t start earlier. I’d be willing to trade my stashes of WD-40 and duct tape for those message outlines, good jokes, and countless facts I’ve heard and forgotten along the way. Recently, while looking over the few hundred I […]

Remembering Henry

“The devil always overplays his hand.” I can still hear Henry Bosch, founder of Our Daily Bread, say those words. His eyes would brighten and a smile would come to his face as he talked about the upside of a difficult day. What Did Henry Mean? Even though Henry wasn’t a card player, I know […]

The Holocaust

Having just returned from a work assignment in Israel, I’ve been reminded again of the Jewish commitment to never forget their national Holocaust.  I’ve also come back with a renewed concern for friends who see a link between anti-Semitism and the New Testament. While recalling discussions with one of those friends, I’m writing: Dear Eli, […]

The Creative Process

TEACHERS OF CREATIVE THINKING sometimes say, “All things are connected. Try to find relationships where you’ve never seen them before.” The exercise might raise questions among those who are more committed to “living by the book” than to “thinking outside the box.” On the other hand, it could be that no one has a better […]

What We Believe

DO THOSE WHO DON’T SHARE OUR VIEWS on God, morality, and public policy enjoy being around us? Or has the tension of moral politics come between us? If so, here’s a question. Is it possible to remain faithful to our own beliefs while fighting for the right of others to disagree with us? My guess […]

The Story Factor

Some people spend a lifetime trying to understand the Bible. Others reduce it to a few basic principles. In Walk the Line, a film portrayal of country singer Johnny Cash, a conversation between two young brothers suggests another approach. During a reflective moment, just before a tragic accident changes their lives, the boys are lying […]

Abuse of Authority

There is a fine line between the healthy and unhealthy use of power. At any time, even the best of leaders can begin making decisions that increasingly put their own interests before the needs of others. The misuse of authority, however, is not always subtle. History tells the stories of countless leaders who boldly acted […]

Marital Abuse

Marital abuse comes home when it happens to someone we care about. Imagine if the following were your daughter: A Woman In Pain: She doesn’t know where to turn and blames herself for ending up in an abusive marriage. You know your daughter isn’t perfect. But what you haven’t seen is how often she’s cried, […]

People-Watching

A people watcher defines his sport like this: “The art of people-watching involves studying the subjects, guessing who they are, where they are coming from, and where they are going. Sometimes it even includes trying to imagine what they are thinking.” What rings true about this description is that it describes people-watching as a series […]

Rescue

In the summer of 2002, a coal mining accident left nine Pennsylvania men trapped 240 feet underground. For three days the men huddled in the darkness of a cramped space that had filled almost to the top with 55 degree water. On the surface, a nation watched as rescue efforts dragged on longer than expected. […]

Futures Trading

The Wall Street we see on the evening news looks out of control. The flailing arms and white shirts on the floor of the trading pit give the appearance of a madhouse way of doing business. The earlier chaos. The confusion, however, is more orderly than the system it replaced. Before the development of “futures […]

Joe Friday

Growing up in the 1950s, I remember the television series Dragnet. Each episode began with the notes of an ominous theme. Then the rich voice of announcer George Fenneman intoned, “The story you are about to see is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.” Producer and actor Jack Webb narrated […]

Imponderables

Where did God come from? Could a creator who made the earth out of nothing come from nowhere? Even a lowly mosquito doesn’t just happen without a spawning pond or puddle. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a believer. I see the logic of believing in a first cause great enough and personal enough to explain […]

The People vs. Job

Public interest in high-profile court cases often declines once the outcome is known. The People vs. Job, however, is a landmark decision that never loses its significance. In one of the most published trials in history we see the eyes of heaven and hell focused on our times of trouble. In the same public record […]

Esther: The Story Behind Purim

She was an orphan who hid a family secret until becoming a national heroine. Today her life is honored in synagogues around the world and celebrated in the streets of Israel during the Jewish holiday of Purim. With noise-makers, costumes, and practical jokes, her national family still remembers one of the great stories of history. […]

Why I Don’t Go To Church

1. I don’t go to church expecting to see a group of people consistently reflecting the attitudes and values of Christ. I’ve seen enough of myself in church sanctuaries, meeting halls, and boardrooms to know that we all are at varying degrees of spiritual growth or regression. Some of us are like noisy newborns. Others […]

The Da Vinci Code

The Da Vinci Code has been on the New York Times Bestseller List since its release in April 2003. In less than 2 years it has become a bestseller in 150 countries and one of the most widely read books of our time. Author Dan Brown has done what many authors only dream of doing. […]

A Prediction

One of the most amazing predictions of the Bible was made in the middle of a national disaster. The pride of Israel had been broken. On the heels of a military defeat, some of the most religious people in the world wondered if God had abandoned them. Many of Israel’s brightest and best young people […]

Misplaced Trust

If God is good, but good isn’t God, how do we avoid making some of our worst mistakes with the best things in life? In an effort to clarify the problem of misplaced trust, what if we said to our hearts: Love God, but don’t depend on your love for Him. Seek to know Him, […]

The Many Faces of Humility

I don’t want to walk with the proud. But neither do I want to be counted among the humble. Humility has P. R. problems. Pride has done a good job ruining the reputation of its rival. Many of us cannot even think of humility without suspecting pride in disguise, or an unhealthy and self-defeating personality. […]

A Great Impostor

I’ve been thinking about a great impostor—one so clever that he deceived even the devil himself. This master of illusion has turned angels into demons, kings into animals, pastors into predators, and sheep into wolves. While the elusive deceiver is not a person, it overcomes that problem by borrowing personality from its victims. With no […]

Spiritual Warfare

In one of the oldest stories of the Bible, the heart of a mere mortal gets caught in the crossfire between a rebel leader and the King of the universe. According to Satan, God has bought the heart of a man named Job by giving him protection in exchange for his loyalty. In response to […]

The King of Kings

Long ago, before dinosaurs roamed the earth, and before there was a star in the sky, a great king issued a decree that shook the realms of darkness. The king spoke and the universe exploded into existence. He said, “Let there be light,” and the darkness ran from him. By the power of his words […]

A Manifesto

Manifestos declare revolutionary ideas. The Communist Manifesto of 1848 called for the redistribution of wealth. Martin Luther’s 95 Theses in 1517 affirmed salvation by faith alone, and the 13 colonies’ Declaration of Independence in 1776 made a case for citizens’ right of revolt. The most revolutionary declaration of all, however, was the first-century preamble to […]

An Admission

Dear Aaron, I hope you are doing well. I miss our conversations about life, religion, and the Chicago Cubs. Even more, I regret that we haven’t kept in touch after your move to Philadelphia. I’m writing now because time has changed my thoughts on a subject we used to disagree about, and I owe you […]

Wisdom

ACCORDING TO BUDDHIST FOLKLORE, two traveling monks reached a river where they met a young woman. Wary of the current, she asked if they could carry her across. One of the monks hesitated, but the other quickly picked her up onto his shoulders, transported her across the water, and put her down on the other […]

Snoopy

FOR 50 YEARS, cartoonist Charles Schulz gave us pictures of ourselves wrapped in a smile. One of the last strips I clipped from our Sunday paper showed Snoopy the dog sitting on top of his doghouse with a typewriter, writing about his life. He titled his story . . . The Dog Who Never Did […]

Two Thieves

Crucifixion was torture. Leather straps or spikes were used to hang a condemned man on a pole. Like a helpless animal tangled in a barbed wire fence, the victim could survive for days with excruciating pain. Death usually came by suffocation when, hanging by his hands, the victim lost the strength to draw another breath. […]

Information Overload

Never before have so many had access to so much information. With human knowledge doubling every few years and search engines like Google, Alta Vista, and Ask Jeeves at our fingertips, the potential for learning seems endless. Ironically, much of what we are discovering helps us to see how little we know. According to Reuters […]

Symphony

OVER TIME, WE ALL COME ACROSS IDEAS that change the way we think about ourselves. For me, one of those thoughts is that a well-lived life is more like a symphony than a solo. The point takes nothing away from a solo. I love hearing Willie Nelson sing “September Song,” or LeAnn Rimes do her […]

Diminished Capacity

In an age of equal rights, it is sometimes difficult to see the Bible as a friend of women. Although some texts treat husbands and wives as equals (1 Corinthians 7:4), other passages view women as the “weaker vessel” (1 Peter 3:7) and place them in a supporting role rather than a leading role (Ephesians […]

Who Killed Christ?

Could The Passion of the Christ stir up flames of ethnic hatred? Some of our Jewish neighbors fear that Mel Gibson’s film about the last hours of Christ will set the calendar back. Many remember the long history of anti-Semitism that surfaced in the writings of Church fathers, the Crusades, and the Holocaust. Now as […]

Our Identity in Christ

Identity theft is a problem most of us didn’t think about 5 years ago. Today it is common to hear the stories of victims who are trying to salvage their name and credit rating after learning that someone has stolen and misused a password, social security number, or charge card. Knowing the danger of identity […]

The Values of Christ

Mel Fisher has been called the world’s greatest treasure hunter. His motto “Today Is The Day” came true on July 20, 1985, when his team found the Mother Lode of their dreams in the tropical waters of the Florida Keys. After years of salvaging shipwrecks of lesser significance, Mel’s team discovered stacks of silver bars, […]

The Attitudes of Christ

What is the goal of spiritual maturity? Jewish rabbis had their opinion. They did more than impart knowledge of the Torah and the Talmud. Their goal was to leave something of themselves in their students. Ben Sirach, writing about 180 years before Christ, expresses the Jewish point of view when he says of a mature […]

The Existence of God

A mature Christian woman recently told me of an experience that caused her to doubt the existence of God. Hearing a woman of the church talk about her doubts got my attention. Over the years I’ve thought of women not only as the gender chosen to give physical birth but most likely to nurture spiritual […]

What Trust Looks Like

What does trust look like when we can’t explain our trouble, or see beyond it? Listening to others as they try to show faith in crisis can be confusing. Some say they are “believing God” for a job, restored health, a reconciled marriage, or the return of a prodigal. Others say reliance on Him means […]

What Works

Trend watchers tell us that a growing number of Americans are more likely to ask “Does religion work?” than “Is it true?” In the past, spiritual seekers asked, “Is there a God and, if so, how can I know Him?” Today, many are more apt to ask, “How can I use spirituality to overcome my […]

What God Said To Me

What if I told you that God has been speaking to me about an issue that I haven’t been able to put out of my mind? Because you know me, you don’t think I’m claiming to have heard God speak in an audible voice. You assume that I have had an idea that I believe […]

Religious Conservatives

Why are the villains in the greatest story ever told a group of religious conservatives? The question is personal. I am a religious and biblical conservative. I believe in the importance of the family and am convinced that our children need to learn the dangers of Darwin, abortion, and same-sex marriage. Theologically, I’m a fundamentalist. […]

Forgiving Ourselves

Why do we punish ourselves for old regrets long after we believe God has forgiven us? The question stuck in my mind after a conversation with someone I’ll call TC. TC described himself as being in recovery for multiple addictions. A couple of times he said, “My problem was forgiving myself. I found it a […]

Unfairness

Life isn’t fair. Helpless children suffer for their parents’ mistakes. Some who work hard are cut down prematurely by accident or disease. Others who hardly work inherit the wealth of someone else’s labor. People of faith seem as subject to the luck of the draw as the weekend gambler. As if by a random dealing […]

The Day God Died

On April 8, 1966, the cover of Time magazine asked in bold black letters, “Is God Dead?” The lead story described the work of several theologians who no longer held to traditional concepts of God. They were alike in concluding that the God of our fathers had not survived the dawn of evolution and birth […]

The Invisible Woman

I recently saw a greeting card that shows a woman sitting in a business meeting with five men. The man at the head of the table says, “That’s an excellent suggestion, Miss Triggs. Perhaps one of the men here would like to make it.” Men smile because the card catches them with their guard down. […]

Shadows Of Doubt

Dear Mel, I’ve been thinking about the spiritual doubts you were struggling with the last time we talked. I didn’t say much at the time because I didn’t know what to say. Now that I’ve had a chance to collect my thoughts, I want you to know that I respect you for admitting that you’ve […]

The Return of Christ

Only hours before His death, a carpenter rabbi from Nazareth told His followers that He was leaving them. Then He said, “Let not your heart be troubled . . . . I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3). Almost 2,000 years later, […]

Ten Things I Learned From My Dad

In the memories that come with a parent’s passing, I’ve been reminded of what my dad taught those of us who lived and worked with him. In many ways, Dad didn’t have an easy life. Long before his problems with a detached retina, heart surgery, and Parkinson’s disease, he lived in the shadow of his […]

The Political Challenge

Is it wise for followers of Christ to be involved in the social debate over public policy? The question of political activism is dividing Christian groups right down the middle. Some are convinced that it is our moral responsibility to use our civil rights to “capture our culture for Christ” and “reclaim our national Christian […]

The Value of a Person

What is the value of a person? In many cultures men are honored more than women. Rich people are respected more than poor people. The current market value of a person is determined like the price of a car. Model, year, and condition all play a part. The disturbing truth is that human worth, like […]

The Sounds of Music

The sound of worship has hit a sour note. In many congregations, changing styles of music have become a source of conflict. ¶ Some church members miss the loss of doctrinally rich hymns. On the other side of the aisle is a generation that seems to thrive on new songs, more volume, and repetitive lyrics. […]

Rules For Fair Fighting

One of the promises of marriage is that shared love will bring out the best in each other. I remember giving my wife Di an anniversary card that said, “I love you not only for who you are, but for who I am when I am with you.” But what happens when husbands and wives […]

Why Israel Can’t Be Ignored

Whether loved or hated, Israel is a magnet. Although no larger than the state of New Jersey, she draws journalists, statesmen, and tourists from all over the world to a few acres of the most contested real estate on earth. Arriving from many nations, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim pilgrims stream through Ben Gurion airport in […]

The Arab-Israeli Conflict

Conflict in the Middle East flows from generation to generation like a river of tears and bad blood. From the days of Abram there has been an unending current of personal rejection, revenge, and mutual loss. The Jewish and Arab problem affects all of us. It costs us at the gas pump. It divides us […]

A Friend’s Struggle With Assurance

A friend recently described to me how his understanding of spirituality has changed over time. I was interested because I knew something of the influence he’d had in his community while still in his teen years. He was known in the small town where he grew up for breaking the county high school pole-vault record. […]

Picturing Animal Sacrifice

In 1987 the city council of Hialeah, Florida, passed several ordinances banning animal sacrifice for religious purposes. A district court initially upheld the council’s actions, citing four concerns: (1) health risks, (2) possible emotional damage to children present at the sacrifices, (3) cruelty to animals, and (4) the council’s interest in restricting the killing of […]

Should We Forgive Terrorists?

The front page of our local newspaper carried the story of peace activists protesting the use of bombs to fight international terrorism. The article included a photo of a child carrying a sign asking, “What Would Jesus Do?”  ¶  The question on the sign is important. Jesus said that if we don’t forgive others, the […]

An Orphan Becomes Queen

She was an orphan who hid a family secret until becoming a national champion. Today she remains the talk and centerpiece of a Jewish holiday. The story of Esther is told every Spring at the Festival of Purim. With noise-makers, costumes, and practical jokes, the nation of Israel celebrates the story of a Jewish orphan […]

Remembering Henry (1914-1995)

“The devil always overplays his hand.” I can still hear Henry Bosch, founder of Our Daily Bread, say those words. His eyes would brighten and a smile would come to his face as he talked about the upside of a difficult day. What Did Henry Mean? Even though Henry wasn’t a card player, I know […]

Words To Remember

A few years ago, I began collecting memorable thoughts and quotes. My regret is that I didn’t start earlier. I’d be willing to trade my stashes of WD-40 and duct tape for those message outlines, good jokes, and countless facts I’ve heard and forgotten along the way. Recently, while looking over the few hundred I […]

What’s A Soft Answer?

I admire the person who can use humor, thoughtfulness, or a self-deprecating comment to defuse the tension of an angry moment. Maybe that’s why I’ve become so intrigued with the proverb that says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). I’m convinced that there is more here […]

A King’s Story Unfolds

One of the great challenges to understanding God’s Word is finding its storyline within its 66 sections. But when we uncover the basic plot, we find that not only is the Bible a good read—it’s our story.  ¶  In these pages, we learn of a Great King who outmaneuvers the terrorist strategies of a former […]

A page from my Patmos Journal

Recently Jerusalem journalist Jimmy DeYoung and I visited the Island of Patmos where John received his vision of the Revelation. Planning to produce 10 programs for Day of Discovery TV, we hoped to provide an up-close view of “The Land of the Seven Churches.” I thought you might like to take a look at a […]

The Path to Peace

The “screensaver” on my computer is a daily reminder of one of the most important thoughts I’ve ever had. When my laptop has been inactive for a few minutes, the screen goes black. Then large red words begin scrolling across the display saying,  “The only way to peace of mind is to see each day […]

A Personal Loss

Dear Al, The last time we talked, you asked a question I couldn’t answer. I remember the concern in your eyes and how helpless I felt to give you any assurance when you asked, “Does the Bible offer any comfort when we’re afraid someone we love has died without Christ?” ¶  Your heartbreak is understandable. […]

An Amazing Prediction

“Time Of Messiah Foretold” “Jewish Prophet Surprises the Experts” “Future of Jerusalem Has Implications for Whole World” “No Permanent Peace for at Least Seven More Years” These headlines deserve front-page space on every newspaper of the world. They are rooted in an often overlooked prophecy made by the Jewish prophet Daniel. Daniel is amazingly credible. […]

Pitfalls of Prophecy

No generation has edged as close as ours to the end of the age. Who can deny that the world is looking more and more like the Bible’s description of the last days. Even secular thinkers are aware of Armageddon-like possibilities. And now, at this late date, I’m having second thoughts about how we’ve handled […]

The ‘‘H’’ Factor

I don’t want to walk with the proud. But neither do I want to be counted among the humble.  ¶  Humility has P. R. problems. Pride has done a good job ruining the reputation of its rival. Many of us cannot even think of humility without suspecting pride in disguise, or an unhealthy and self-defeating personality. […]

The Great Debate

The People vs. Job In a courtroom of heaven a prosecutor from hell stands to his feet. His opening comments are brief. He alleges that one who has not joined the resistance is on the take. If his claim can be established, the verdict will raise questions about persons in high places. With the Court’s […]

The Gift

Imagine filling out an application for heaven. After filling in your name and address, you come to a section marked “Qualifications.” What would you put there? “My belief in God? The people I have helped along the way? I’ve tried to live by the Ten Commandments?” Or would you write, “No qualifications other than my […]

Should We Go Kosher?

Do followers of Christ have a moral obligation to keep the Ten Commandments? Even though this seems like an easy question, I’ve struggled with the answer. Why Is This A Hard Question? The question of our relationship to the law of Moses is thorny for a number of reasons. People who believe in the Bible […]

A Heartache

Dear Chris, The last time we talked, you asked whether I thought those who end their own lives could go to heaven. Since we didn’t get a chance to finish that conversation, I hope you don’t mind if I use this letter to say some things that I wish I’d been able to say at […]

The Voting Booth

How do we, as followers of Christ, vote in a way that is consistent with our faith? Some believe the answer is to cast our ballot in favor of candidates who will try to make the morality of the Bible the law of the land. Others believe the most Christlike vote is the one that […]

An Argument

Diane and I have been married for 31 years. For more than three decades it seems as if we’ve been talking, laughing, and disagreeing about almost everything. My reason for mentioning the disagreements is that I’ve been thinking again about one issue we’ve found especially difficult. Time after time we’ve argued about the way women […]

Does God Play Favorites?

Why would a parent do more for some of his children than for others? Why does our Father in heaven seem to repeat the mistake of a well-known biblical patriarch? Jacob provoked family rivalry among his 12 sons by spoiling young Joseph in the presence of older brothers (Genesis 37:3). So often our Father seems […]

The Sounds of Music

The sound of worship has hit a sour note. In many congregations, changing styles of music have become a source of conflict. Some church members miss the loss of doctrinally rich hymns. On the other side of the aisle is a generation that seems to thrive on new songs, more volume, and repetitive lyrics. Over […]